Tour de France 2021: Full statement from the riders’s union after stage three crash controversy

The first sprint stage prompted a major backlash from the pros

Tour de France peloton at the start of stage three
Tour de France peloton at the start of stage three
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

The professional rider’s union has released a statement after the crash controversy on stage three of the Tour de France 2021. 

Following a string of major crashes on the first sprint stage of this year’s Tour, there was a backlash from riders who raised concerns about safety out on the course. 

The concerns from the riders centred around the technical high-speed finish in Pontivy, Brittany, as sprint trains fought for position with general classification squads on tight and winding roads, resulting in a number of significant crashes. 

According to reports, riders had requested before the stage that the general classification race be neutralised 8km from the finish rather than the usual 3km cut-off, allowing GC teams to sit up and so the sprinters could fight for the stage victory, but the request was supposedly turned down. 

On the morning of stage four, the professional riders’s union the CPA (Cyclistes Professionnels Associés), released a statement on behalf of the Tour peloton, saying riders wished to share their dissatisfaction with the safety measures in place on stage three.

The statement said: “Following the crashes during the third stage of the Tour de France, the riders have been discussing how they wish to proceed to show their dissatisfaction with safety measures in place and demand their concerns are taken seriously. Their frustration about foreseeable and preventable action is enormous.

“The riders wish to stress their respect for their sponsors, their sports groups, the organiser, their international institution. Supporters are very important to them – and this is why they will be riding today.”

A deleted tweet from the CPA immediately after the stage reveals the organisation wasn't initially so critical of the route, calling it a "compelling and dramatic final" as Tim Merlier (Alpecin-Fenix) won his first Tour stage. 

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The peloton was expected to held a small protest at the start of stage four from Redon to Fougères, stopping for one minute at kilometre zero and taking the first 10km slowly. 

According to the CPA, the peloton also wishes to set up a meeting with the UCI to adapt the 3km GC cut-off during stage races to avoid similar crash-riddled stages.

>>> 'We cannot continue like this': Riders and team bosses give their verdict on crash-fuelled start to Tour de France 2021 

In response to stage three, UCI boss David Lappartient said the roads used on the course “were fine, a consistent width and with no traffic islands.” 

Lappartient said the crashes were caused by rider error and were compounded by the high speeds because the stage finished at the bottom of a steep valley in Pontivy.  

He said: “The majority of crashes are due to lack of attention, but I can understand, they are so stressed out all day.” 

Full CPA statement to stage three safety concerns  

Following the crashes during the third stage of the Tour de France, the riders have been discussing how they wish to proceed to show their dissatisfaction with safety measures in place and demand their concerns are taken seriously. Their frustration about foreseeable and preventable action is enormous.

The riders wish to stress their respect for their sponsors, their sports groups, the organiser, their international institution. Supporters are very important to them – and this is why they will be riding today.

In return, the riders of the Tour de France ask for the same respect – respect for their safety.

For this reason they are asking the UCI to setup discussions with all race stakeholders to adapt the 3 km rule during stage races. This could avoid circumstances such as those which occurred in yesterday's stage.

Through this course of action, the riders intend to show their understanding to all parties and to open up to a constructive dialogue rather than create difficulties for cycling and the fans. However, riders and CPA are determined to pursue changes for the safety and physical integrity of athletes. These changes are more necessary than ever.

Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.